By Mary Sollosi
March 31, 2019 at 10:30 AM EDT
Buena Vista/Everett Collection
type
  • Movie

After two decades of 10 Things I Hate About You, we still don’t hate it, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Even now, watching bad boy Patrick’s (Heath Ledger) hyper-articulate courtship of the tempestuous shrew Kat (Julia Stiles) sets our hearts aflutter; seeing Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) burn, pine, perish as he longs for Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) takes us right back to the ache of first love. But while Gil Junger’s 1999 teen movie is now a timeless classic of the high school genre, the Taming of the Shrew-inspired rom-com still bears the marks of the decade in which it was made (among them the very fact of its Shakespeare-to-high-school transposition).

In celebration of the beloved movie’s 20th anniversary, here are 10 of the most ’90s things from 10 Things I Hate About You, identified by 10 lines from the eternally quotable flick.

“Those damn Dawson’s River kids sleeping in each other’s beds and whatnot”

Let’s start with the obvious! Any high school movie worth its unrequited longing will be packed with of-the-moment references. 10 Things has got them, from Mr. Stratford’s WB-inflicted horror to Patrick’s insistence he “didn’t sleep with a Spice Girl” to Michael’s Lord of the Dance moves. Padua High teen queen Bianca increases the pop culture quotient with her pouty viewing of The Real World: Seattle and her confirmation that Kat isn’t “a k.d. lang fan” — which we know, by the way, because…

“I found a picture of Jared Leto in her drawer once”

Touchstone Pictures

Which brings us to the sisters’ flawless ’90s bedrooms, where we find piles of concert tickets for “chicks who can’t play their instruments” and one pair of black panties(!) in Kat’s heavily poster-collaged space, and no fewer than three (3) framed butterfly prints in Bianca’s largely floral boudoir.

Touchstone Pictures

While there is no footage of the rumored photograph of Jared Leto, we can take Bianca’s word for it, as well as her interpretation that it means Kat likes “pretty guys” (and not, as one might interpret the possession of such an image in the present, that one likes “Joker guys,” which, to be fair, Kat clearly does). But I digress! This ’90s dream of a teenage bedroom tells us everything we need to know about Kat’s taste, but does raise the question…

“Are you telling me I’m not a pretty guy?”

First of all, how dare anyone, even tiny Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so much as imply that Heath Ledger is not one of the most gorgeous men who ever walked the earth? Second of all, Patrick’s floppy, messy, and yes, very pretty mop has got to be one of the most ’90s hairstyles among the very ’90s hairstyles in 10 Things I Hate About You. Between him, Cameron, and Joey, we’ve basically got every boy band ’do we could possibly need; on the girls’ side, Bianca brings prim, piecey sweetness while Kat’s long, crimpy mane is perfect for tossing around while dancing to Biggie, or to…

“Angry-girl music of the indie-rock persuasion”

The 10 Things soundtrack ranks among the decade’s very best, and it’s packed with all the girl-powered alt-rock your little ’90s heart could dream of. Can’t you just see Kat lying in that perfect poster-covered bedroom, listening to screaming women on her oversized headphones, and thinking about…

“I know how difficult it must be for you to overcome all those years of upper-middle-class suburban oppression”

Kat’s specific brand of angry intellectual feminism is a truly ’90s expression of suburban-girl angst — especially considering that Kat has grown up and grown into her female fury in the suburbs of Seattle, right alongside the riot grrrl movement. Edgy though teenage audiences may have found her criticism of the “emptiness of [Bianca and Chastity’s] meaningless, consumer-driven lives” two decades ago (the same year Fight Club came out and beat us all — kind of literally? — over the head with a similar sentiment), this particular mode of detached cynicism feels obvious now, having gone out of fashion along with Kat’s low-rise cargo pants. Remember low-rise cargo pants? You could say that everyone loved them back in the ’90s. You could also say that…

“I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack”

We are, as one might say in Europe, totally whelmed by 10 Things’ ’90s style. Bianca does show great foresight in valuing her Prada backpack (hello, it’s Prada) over her Skechers, which, we can confirm 20 years later, will not age as well. But everything anyone wears throughout the movie, from Kat’s flimsy tank tops to Bianca’s somehow-flimsier sundresses, absolutely screams 1999 — and don’t even get us started on the prom dress situation. The film is as fluent in ’90s fashion as it is in contemporary slang, which brought us such gems as…

“You are not going out and getting jiggy with some boy, I don’t care how dope his ride is”

Yeah, Mr. Stratford (Larry Miller) is down. He’s got the 4-1-1. From being up to his elbows in placenta all day (his words), he’s got a better idea of what teens actually get up to at a party (otherwise known as an orgy!) than the poor guy who wanted to know…

“Are there sheep?”

Can we take a minute and celebrate the profound weirdness tucked into the corners of 10 Things I Hate About You, and in fact tucked into the corners of the entire decade in which it was made? Let’s raise a glass to the guy who would only date Kat “if we were the last two people on Earth, and there were no sheep”; to the Shakespeare-obsessed Mandella (Susan May Pratt), who deserves infinitely more screentime; to Bogey Lowenstein (Kyle Cease) and Nigel with the brie; and, of course, to the peerless Ms. Perky (Allison Janney), whose odes to “Reginald’s quivering member” get her through guidance-counseling all those “asswipe sh— for brains” teenagers — including, if you can believe it…

“Let me guess, cowboys?”

Michael’s tour introducing Cameron to the various cliques of Padua High is a perfect encapsulation of much of the above — from the “political” but pre-politically-correct white rastas to the Izod-wearing pre-recession future MBAs; the very Seattle coffee kids to the honestly inexplicable high school cowboys. The Padua student body brings everything to the table you could possibly want, but as 10 Things draws to a close, we are reminded that there still could be room for…

“And maybe even one day a tambourine”

Band on the roof, why not! This is the ’90s! Put a band on every roof!

Related content:

type
  • Movie
Genre
mpaa
  • PG-13
release date
  • 03/31/99
director
  • Gil Junger
Performers
  • Julia Stiles,
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
  • Heath Ledger,
  • Larisa Oleynik
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